Thursday, April 26, 2007

Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin 1 - Day 11: Victory Challenge beat Areva Challenge by hair-thin margin

Victory Challenge started the race on a strong note and could have had an easy win. Instead they turned it into a drama and won by a 5-second margin after offloading their penalty at the finish line.

The Swedes won the start convincingly and were leading up the first beat but Areva Challenge attacked aggressively in a tacking duel, got closer and was even able to cause a penalty for Järv. As a result, the French rounded the top mark 7 seconds ahead. The race was tough and close but the French managed to increase their lead to 10 seconds at the leeward gate. At that point it was the turn of Areva Challenge to commit an error and let the Swedes round the right buoy, allowing them to then go on the favorable right side of the course on the last upwind leg.

The real drama was played during the last few hundred meters of the race, when the Swedes were ahead but had to offload their penalty. They decide to round the pin end and a combination of good tactic decisions and excellent crew work let them slip through the French.

Victory Challenge starts the race with a very comfortable advantage over their French rivals. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

With such a lead in the start, one would have guessed that Victory Challenge shouldn't have great problems winning the race. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Victory Challenge and Areva Challenge arriving at the leeward gate. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Areva Challenge let the Swedes round the right buoy of the leeward gate. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

The two boats arriving at the finish line. Victory Challenge still have to offload their penalty. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Victory Challenge preparing to gybe. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Excellent crew work by Victory Challenge's bowman Pepe Ribes. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

The turn of SWE-96 caused applause from all spectator boats. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Just a few meters to victory. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

That's it. The judges raise the blue flag and Victory Challenge win the match less than a boatlength in front of Areva Challenge. Valencia, 26 April 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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